Author: Gail Carson Levine
Published: Originally in 1997
Genre: YA Fantasy
Age: Middle Grade*
POV: 1st person
Format: Paperback & Kindle
Rating: The Treasure Vault
How can a fairy's blessing be such a curse?
At her birth, Ella of Frell was given a foolish fairy's gift--the "gift" of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it's hopping on one foot for a day or chopping off her own head!
But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. She goes on a quest, encountering ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and handsome princes, determined to break the curse--and live happily ever after.
What if you had to obey every command you were given? Ella of Frell, thanks to a "gift" given to her from the fairy Lucinda, has been cursed with such compulsion to be obedient ever since she was an infant. After her mother's death, her father catches the interest of Dame Olga. Dame Olga's two daughters, Hattie and Olive, take an unfortunate interest in Ella, and Ella quickly finds that hiding her obedience will be even more difficult than usual. Throw in a charming prince, some deadly and hungry ogres, and a coming-of-age journey to find a somewhat annoying fairy godmother, and you have the excellency that is Ella Enchanted.
Delightfully magical, Ella Enchanted gives a fresh twist to an old classic. Ella may be forcibly obedient, but she's fiercely determined to fight against her curse and not let it ruin her life. Despite how lighthearted some of the elements in this story seem, Gail Carson Levine touches on emotion quite genuinely. This book is simply charming, amusing, heartfelt, and truly wonderful. As a kid I adored this novel and Ella's stubborn, take-action personality. Even now as an adult, I still love and adore this novel. I would highly recommend Ella Enchanted to fantasy fans looking for something familiar, but with a few new, intriguing twists.
Highlights: Amusing, sweet but also a sharp-witted fairytale with a twist. Prince Char, because he is obviously quite charming. Vivid descriptions bring the magic to life, and especially the various mythical creatures. Mandy is an excellent side character. As a protagonist, Ella is so smart, easy to adore, and determined. But, she's still capable of making mistakes, and that only made me root for her more. The various relationships, both good and bad, are wonderfully developed. The themes of this novel are fantastic, and I love how Gail Carson Levine delves into relatable issues while still keeping that fairytale charm.
Lowlights: The larger plot is predictable (since this is a Cinderella retelling), but it's not very problematic, since Gail Carson Levine infuses plenty of creativity and fresh twists to keep readers on their toes. Not enough pages? That is problematic!
Rating: The Treasure Vault (5+ out of 5). Ella Enchanted is an old favorite and is worthy of keeping company with the crown jewels. I'd highly recommend this novel to other readers. If I could give this book a palace of it's own, I would.
* I first read this novel when I was 9 or 10 years old, and adored it. This book seems to be Middle Grade, but as an adult, I can see this book as being a slightly younger YA novel, too (or an older MG story). Ella's age (15/16) makes it seem like a YA, but the content is very tame.